Microsoft 365 is an ever evolving set of tools and services. In its infancy, it was about office tools like Power Point, Word and Excel and a small number of additional services that felt somewhat aside from these like SharePoint.
In 2023 however, if you were to relook at the services on offer, you would be overwhelmed by the breath and volume of what's on offer.
Moreover, now we are entering the AI age, one by one, services are gradually getting the AI treatment with their own brand and implementation of what Microsoft call Copilot.
Its Easy To Become Overwhelmed
If you work in or are thinking of entering this space, knowing your opportunities and exploiting the best of what's on offer is in itself a skill.
From Architects to Citizen Developers and Makers, the need to know what options you have can feel like it is growing exponentially.
But although staying up to date with change can feel daunting, there are tactics you can deploy to ease your worried and keep you on the growth curve of Microsoft 365 and all it offers.
This blog aims to give you actionable tips to help you build new habits based around your desire to stay in the know with all things Microsoft 365 and feeling confident that you are (if not on) at least aware of the future waves of change.
Riding the Waves of Microsoft 365 Changes
To know where to begin, let's Imagine you're a new surfer, standing on the shoreline, staring at the vast expanse of the sea with waves that seem daunting and unpredictable. Navigating the waters of Microsoft 365 updates can feel a lot like this.
But just as a surfer starts with the right equipment – a surfboard and a wetsuit – to ride those waves, you too must equip yourself with the right tools and mindset.
It's essential to have 'playground' in the Microsoft 365 universe. Somewhere you can explore and thats also as a by product likely to get the latest changes. It's got to be a place where you can safely explore, experiment, and practice without any repercussions.
Remember, much like surfing, merely learning about the changes isn't enough. Without hands-on practice, that knowledge can fade away, lost amidst the tides of information. So, you'll want to gear up, dive in, and make sure you're riding the wave rather than being swept away by it.
There are 2 great options to explore right away if you don't already have this safe haven.
- Get a Microsoft Developer Tenant and Set it up as a US located Environment (only because these more often than not get the latest changes first - like Copilot for Power Apps and the new Power Automate Designer interface).
- If you are able or this is on offer in your organisations, grab yourself a Development environment on your tenant. Here's a blog showing you how.
Embracing Micro-Habits in Your Learning Journey
Another aspect of learning about changes aside from having a place to practice is to build practices that help you learn.
The key to effective learning isn't always about consuming large volumes of information, but rather ingesting it in manageable, consistent bites.
Enter the concept of a 'micro-habit'. A micro-habit is a small, easily achievable action or behavior that, when performed regularly, leads to the establishment of a broader, more robust habit over time.
For Microsoft 365 enthusiasts and practicioners, this could mean dedicating just five minutes daily to exploring a new feature, watching a quick tutorial, or reading a brief article. Over time, this micro-habit compounds, ensuring you're constantly updated and familiar with the platform's evolving nuances.
It's like nibbling on a snack rather than waiting for a large meal; you're constantly nourishing your understanding, ensuring you're never left feeling overwhelmed or out of the loop.
Tapping Directly Into the Source: Microsoft's Release Plans
To build those habits around the ever-evolving world of Microsoft, there's no better foundational strategy than going straight to the horse's mouth.
Specifically, for Dynamics and the Power Platform, Microsoft rolls out two major release waves each year. These releases aren't just technical updates; they're opportunities for users to dive into new functionalities, improvements, and transformative features.
To help users navigate these waves, Microsoft hosts online events that provide summaries of what's on the horizon for the next six months, acting as a guiding star for enthusiasts and professionals alike.
To facilitate a tailored experience once you leave these sessions (which are usually available on demand afterwards), there's the interactive release plan. Here's a link. I'd encourage you to explore and get used to this tool as part of building your new habit. Perhaps review it once a week for new items.
The release plans are a tool that empowers users to sift through updates and cherry-pick what aligns most with their interests or business needs.
For those who crave a more granular understanding of weekly alterations, Microsoft's official blogs are invaluable. They offer timely deep dives into the minutiae of changes. Their aim is to ensure that significant changes and usability upgrades are broadcast even if they are not visible readily on the roadmap (it is worth saying that the Roadmap is an abstraction, it's not always comprehensive and change does take place that you may not sport easily using this tool). Here are links to 2 Microsoft blogs we use regularly at the Academy:
Streamlining Your Micro-Habit with Collab365 Daily Digest
Building a micro-habit of staying updated with the Microsoft ecosystem is undoubtedly important. It should form your learning bedrock.
Yet, as with any habit, having the right resources can amplify your efforts and ensure consistency. Enter the Collab365 Daily Digest.
While it is a tap into Microsoft's official channels, it also gives you a broader perspective which can provide invaluable insights. It collects information for you which goes beyond the boundaries of Microsoft's narrative to bring expert and community-driven viewpoints directly to your inbox.
This curated feed doesn't just parrot information; it collects the crème de la crème of relevant updates, allowing you to quickly scan through and absorb what matters most. With the Collab365 Daily Digest, your endeavour to build a potent micro-habit becomes smoother, more informed, and immensely more rewarding.
Selecting Your Topics: A Crucial Strategy for Information Overload
Using all of these sources, information is bountiful. Trying to consume it all is a recipe for burnout. Dive too deep without discernment, and the tidal wave will not enlighten but rather engulf you.
It's essential, then, to adopt a selective approach. Choose topics that resonate with your interests, align with your goals, or hold relevance to your professional or personal growth.
By curating what you engage with, you're not only ensuring a richer, more tailored learning experience but also guarding against the overwhelm that comes from trying to grasp everything at once. Remember, in the realm of information, quality always trumps quantity. Don't let the vastness consume you; take charge by selecting your topics with intention.
Choose to Follow People Who Do the Leg Work for You
A final tip to leave you with is about the human side of learning. Having a guiding hand can make a significant difference.
An example of where you can reach for help is into the Collab365 Academy. It's staffed ad populated by passionate coaches and people invested in this world who can help you sift through the waves of change and help you select and filter what will matter most for you.
Think of academy coaches for example as your vigilant lifeguards, watching the vast sea of information, ready to point out the most noteworthy waves.
Another angle to take is to seeking out an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in your specific area of interest. These individuals have already demonstrated their expertise and commitment, and they can act as reliable beacons in the vast sea of content.
You'll often find these same people on platforms like YouTube and TikTok bringing you the new and noteworthy in digestible chunks.
Our advice would be of course to join the Academy live Weekly Digest shows (tailored to just this problem every Monday) but also find one or two creators whose style resonates with you.
Remember, it's not always about chasing the most popular names, but those who make learning enjoyable and relatable for you. The essence of building a micro-habit lies in the pleasure of the process. So, select your guides and the information you bookmark wisely.
If you ensure you follow all of these tips selecting the sources which align with your preferences, it will make your learning journey a joyful one.
A Final Word
The Microsoft 365 suite is akin to a vast ocean with ever-changing currents. Not every wave or ripple will be pertinent to your journey. For those just embarking on this voyage, the best strategy is to anchor your focus on the core applications that you find yourself navigating daily. Once you've built your confidence and expertise there, you can then venture further into the broader seas of the suite.
A few parting tips: It's essential to realize that many changes within the Microsoft 365 environment might not come with grand announcements or detailed documentation. The evolution of the user experience is often nuanced, with subtle shifts and gentle nudges. Always keep an eye on home screens, pop-out notifications, and even the smallest interface alterations. They might be the harbinger of something new and exciting on the horizon.
Happy exploring, and may your Microsoft 365 journey be both enlightening and enjoyable!